Gut Check: How do I know if my gut needs a makeover?

In the last several years, gut health has started to become more mainstream. However, as a Nutritionist that specializes in this area, when people ask me questions about “gut health” they tend to think any issues as being isolated to digestion.

The truth is that gut health impacts everything in your body. From your mental health to your immune system to your brain, skin and ultimately, your risk for diseases.

That’s why I’m sharing my top five signs that your gut needs some TLC!


Let’s start with the obvious. When there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, this often leads to digestive issues such as bloating, heartburn, gas and constipation and/or loose stool, as well as food sensitivities.

Sugar cravings:

If you’re someone who identifies with having a “sweet tooth,” it might help to know that it’s not just a lack of willpower that’s making it difficult to cut down on your favourite treats.

When you eat sugar it’s not only feeding your craving; it’s also feeding the harmful bacteria in your gut that survive on sugar! The good news is, you can starve out these little critters who are sending you the cravings in just a few days by going cold turkey. Doing so will significantly reduce your cravings and make it easier to eat treats in moderation.

Skin nightmares:

Many people attribute skin issues to mainly hormones, and while it’s true they can contribute to acne, your gut health has a massive impact on your skin as well.

That’s because your skin is your body’s largest detoxification organ. So when your gut health needs some attention, which often causes digestive issues and a slowing of your transit time, it means you have more toxins circulating in your system. This “clogging” of your digestive system often comes up on your skin.


Your gut has almost as many neurons as your spinal cord, which is why it’s frequently referred to as your second brain. The same things that cause an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, like sugar for example, also cause ups and downs in your mood due to blood sugar fluctuation. The answer is to change your diet to support good bacteria thereby reducing cravings and allowing you to eat more balanced meals that support a stable mood. A diet overhaul can be a nightmare, so start small and work your way up to significant changes!

Immune function:

If it feels like you’ve had more than your fair share of the cold and flu season already, you have your gut to thank. More than 70% of your immune system is dependant on the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. When there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, this puts you more at risk to get sick.

If you identify with one or more of these symptoms, the next step is to start the healing process which is what we call the “4 R’s”.

REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut.

First I recommend staying away from things that support bad bacteria such as sugar, alcohol and processed foods and switching to filtered water as chlorinated water is particularly damaging.

REPLACE with healing foods

Ensuring you eat a diet consisting of a large variety of plant-based foods is critical! Include lots of fruits and vegetables and fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. So often the focus is on a balanced diet of macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrates. However, it’s the micronutrients that help our body prevent disease and heal. Scientists have said that eating a diet high in plants can reduce your risk of death across the board. -see study

REPAIR with specific supplements

The repair process is the part most frequently skipped and includes support from a variety of nutritional supplements to speed healing. I recommend you see a holistic nutritionist like myself or a naturopath for individual recommendations.

REBALANCE with probiotics

Probiotics are my favourite supplement and completely necessary for healing your gut. However, it’s essential to get a variety of good bacteria strains, so in addition to your supplement, it’s vital that you seek out natural foods that contain probiotics and make these functional foods a part of your regular diet. One of my client favourites is fermented coconut “yogurt” excellent afternoon snack paired with some fresh berries!